INDIANAPOLIS – A Halloween trick or treat?
The NFL trade deadline falls on Halloween this year—a week from Tuesday—and with that brings the annual question.
Buy or sell?
Last year, you saw a Colts season heading off the rails lead to a sell of a Nyheim Hines, but the Colts did get some return on that in acquiring Zack Moss (and a 5th round pick) from Buffalo.
At 3-5, and with Anthony Richardson’s rookie season over, how should the Colts handle the trade deadline this year?
Reasons To Buy
-Avenue To Acquire: While the NFL trade deadline doesn’t bring the fanfare of other professional league deadlines, or even the intrigue of free agency or the draft, it should be looked at as a nice opportunity to make some changes. With cap space inevitably getting tighter over the years, as the Colts start to pay more important positions, other avenues to bolster the roster can’t be ignored. This is one of those times when you have teams bringing all different mindsets to the trade deadline table.
–Believe In Second Chances: A big part of the trade deadline often hovers around a former high-ish pick, reaching the end of his rookie deal, and that current team deciding enough is enough in parting ways. And, of course, that brings another team thinking they can tap into something with a second home for that player (a la former 3rd round pick Zack Moss last year). The Colts have had some short-term success with various resurrection projects (a Vontae Davis, an Eric Ebron, a Xavier Rhodes, a Zack Moss to name a few). This is a time to explore that and see if you can get a player who can aid the Anthony Richardson era from a timeline standpoint.
Reasons To Sell
–Think Future: So much of the trade deadline for me boils down to this—do you think you are a playoff team and a trade will take you from that, to being a Super Bowl contender? If the answer to that is no, I almost always lean towards being a ‘seller.’ And right now, I think the thought has to be that the 2023 Colts are not “one player away” from being a contender. The Titans started it on Monday by trading long-time vet Kevin Byard. Should the Colts follow suit?
–Build War Chest: As the Colts get deeper into building a team with Anthony Richardson the accumulation of draft picks will take on even more of a focus. Finding impactful players on “cheap” rookie deals will be paramount to team growth. And the building of draft capital helps to keep doors open to pop into a big-time trade (a wideout for Richardson?). So there’s where selling comes into play a bit. It’s long-term thinking, but needs to be kept in mind as you think about what could be need for bigger acquisitions in the future.
-I would look long and hard at moving some of the “contract year players” who you are leaning towards not bringing back. Some of the team’s 2024 free agents include Michael Pittman Jr., Zack Moss, Kenny Moore, Julian Blackmon, Grover Stewart. Are any of these guys expendable? Are all of these guys in the 2024 plans, and beyond? I view future draft capital as very important, not only to try and hit on early impact/rookie contract guys, but also for building a future trade package for a star wideouts. If moving one of those guys, who you don’t plan to re-sign, gets you some return for the ’24 Draft, that is something to look into. The Colts are 3-5, having lost 3 straight, sitting in 13th place in the AFC. No one can, honestly, view them as a playoff-caliber team given their record, plus recent trend. If they are going to make any move in the next 48 hours, it needs to fall more on the “selling” scale. Of course, these are my thoughts. And Chris Ballard’s history of one in-season trade (Nyheim Hines to Buffalo at last year’s trade deadline for Zach Moss plus a 5th round pick that became TE-Will Mallory) carries more weight.
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